The Latest on Artificial Intelligence

Amazon, Apple, Google, IBM, and Microsoft are now partnering with respect to artificial intelligence (AI). The full name of the partnership is the “Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society.” Its mission is to “establish best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.”

You can take it to the bank that a consortium such as this consisting of the leading tech companies is going to advance AI rapidly. The AI market is predicted to be worth $36 billion within less than a decade. My research indicates that this is a very conservative figure. Other analysts say that the market will be worth $50 billion as early as 2020.

Don’t assume that AI is limited to robots on the factory floor that threaten blur-collar jobs, or that its cutting edges are technologies like Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana. It goes way beyond that. No other field of research is being pursued more hotly by every major technology company.

IBM’s Watson has already defeated world chess champion Gary Kasparov at his own game, and recently trounced the world’s top Go player, a far more complicated game than chess. AI is being incorporated into self-driving vehicles and in medical instruments that can surpass human image interpretation and diagnose diseases with greater accuracy than physicians.

The legal industry is also not exempt from the advent of AI. The gap between what humans and machines can do is narrowing rapidly, and lawyers are already being affected by it beyond the basics. There are now even applications that can adjudicate disputes as well as experienced judges and reach decisions a lot faster.

The time when AI becomes as capable as your average attorney might seem like a long way off, but it may not be. Attorneys who view this massive disruption as an opportunity will be the ones both left standing and profiting from the advent of AI. New opportunities to ride this budding industry wave are cascading. Those lawyers who are in denial that this can ever happen will be left looking for something to do.

One example suffices to draw a picture and make the point: self-driving vehicles.

This technology, which incorporates many diverse AI applications, is already upon us. It is currently being tested in several states and high-traffic areas and the results to date have been stunning. Accident rates are near zero, which means that once autonomous cars and trucks become ubiquitous on our streets and highways, personal injury attorneys had better run for the hills.